Incredible title race – who is watching who? Liverpool have to believe that City will slip up

It could be now or never for Klopp’s side with Manchester City looking so strong and Spurs likely to challenge next season

We’ve all been celebrating at Juventus this week after both the men and the women sealed our respective Serie A titles on Sunday. We could not have timed it any better. We beat Verona 3-0 to win our second title in as many years while the guys made it eight consecutive scudetti. I came to Juventus inspired by the winning blood in the veins of the club and I am delighted to have achieved the title in my first season.

It has been a really enjoyable few days before our final match, Sunday’s Coppa Italia final against Fiorentina, when we will be going for the double. We had a rocky period in October and November and we were all able to look forward and know that victory at the end of the season would be even sweeter if we remembered how we worked hard for every bit of it.

The coaches gave us three days off to celebrate, relax and spend time with our families before we returned to start our preparations for the final. It is almost like you have finished the marathon and then you’ve got to do a 200m race straight afterwards. Obviously the mood in the training ground is incredible but we know we have a huge game on Sunday and Fiorentina are not going to be happy that they lost the league to us. We have to make sure we switch from party mode and get our minds on the task in hand, although we know we have accomplished something great already.

One of the keys to any title race is not getting distracted by your opponent – once you start concentrating on what they are doing then it makes the job of winning your game even harder and you can easily take your eye off the ball.

Manchester City, who came through their latest test with flying colours in the derby victory at Old Trafford on Wednesday, are one point ahead of Liverpool at the moment and know that if they win their three remaining matches they will retain the title.

You can see that the winning habit is ingrained in City and to them it really does not matter what Liverpool are doing – each of their 11 wins in a row have piled the pressure on their opponents. They do not need to think about Liverpool as much as Liverpool are thinking about them.

Building a serial championship-winning side is not easy and that is why Pep Guardiola deserves so much credit for City’s performances over the past two seasons. You also can’t really beat the experience of having been there before because it is a very pressured period and players like Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Agüero will know exactly the right character to display during this period. They have all won the title three times already with City and they will be the voices in the dressing room who are keeping everyone’s feet on the ground and making sure the squad have the same approach to every match.

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Liverpool will be looking at City and wondering where they are going to drop points now. It is so tough on Liverpool knowing they could win their last 12 games and still not win the title. Looking at the respective run-ins, I’m not sure if City are likely to slip up given that they have to play Burnley on Sunday before Leicester at home and Brighton away on the final day, although in a title race you never know what might happen.

But the game that really sticks out for me is Liverpool against Wolves on the final day because Wolves are a team who have caused serious problems for a lot of the bigger names, as they showed against Arsenal on Wednesday. It’s also about what these teams are playing for – what motivation will 10th-placed Leicester have for playing out of their skins to beat City, even if they managed it earlier in the season?

The difference in psychology is really important at this stage. This is the closest Liverpool have got to winning the league since 2014 and five years is as long as it can take to build a team capable of challenging. After United’s game on Wednesday, Roy Keane was talking about Manchester United and how they could become the new Liverpool and not win the league for more than 20 years if they don’t fix the problems they have at the moment. That is how long it can take.

For the romance of football and for many neutrals a lot of people would prefer to see Liverpool win the league because it would be an incredible achievement after nearly 30 years of waiting. City retaining the title just doesn’t have the same romance.

For Liverpool, it would be richly deserved for the winning rock-and-roll brand of football performed under Jürgen Klopp but I just wonder whether it’s now or never for them, with City looking so strong and Tottenham likely to challenge as well next season. It would be absolutely devastating for Klopp’s side to get almost 100 points and still not win the title – maybe in that situation it would be easier to swallow to finish second by 20 points!

But it really says everything about City and how good they are that such an exceptional Liverpool team may still fall short of Premier League success. They have raised the level of everyone who is chasing them, even if they have failed to go all the way in the Champions League. It just goes to show how incredible this season has been and however it ends we have been privileged to witness two unforgettable teams.